Design Critique: Nature Trek

Designers

So I have the travel bug… really badly. I’ll be flying to New York the end of March with some friends, but I’ll be honest, it’s not enough. I caught the travel bug back in college when I studied in Israel ¬†for a semester(with trips to Jordan and Egypt), and never got over it.

Is it really a surprise to anyone, then, that I’m reviewing yet another travel site? I don’t go searching for them, honest. They just pop up!

Nature Trek is all about vacations centered around wildlife.

Design Critique: Nature Trek

Colors

Choosing the right colors for your website is vital. While most clients tend to stick close to blue, I’ve found a growing number willing to branch out. This fresh, healthy green sets a great mood for the website. If you take a look at the top right, they added just a touch of bright healthy orange. If they hadn’t already included it, I would be suggesting it! The orange conveys the same mood as the green.

Information Architecture

I love love LOVE their organization of the links at the top, the main ones. They provide all six possible ways you might be looking to find a vacation, including “Tour Leaders” – who does it best – and “Latest News” – what’s going on in nature that you might want to see. It’s nice to see someone put so much thought into how people are looking for information.

In addition to the top links, they also include nice handy (jQuery?) links in the middle of the page: Destination, Tour Focus, and Tour Type… again. But these links actually focus on providing something different then the top links. These are for users who are looking for ideas, and the top ones are for users who already know where they want to go.

Top Bar

I usually talk a lot about the bottom bar of websites, and don’t worry, I’ll get to that, but the top bar of websites can be difficult as well. It’s the first thing users see, so its got to be pretty great. The map in the background spreads across the page, which is pretty standard now-a-days. It also includes a search bar and “maintenance” links like ‘Home’, ‘How to Book’, etc. Those two match up nicely on either side.

But take a look at where they put the phone number: under the links bar. In fact, except for a teeny-tiny ‘Home’ link on the left (perhaps to help users who might be looking over there to get back home), the phone number stands alone. It’s easy to see, in bold black letters, and is close enough to its normal position (right side above the links) that you don’t miss it. I will never understand why any company hides their phone number in the middle of their contact page… unless they’re really bad at customer service!

Design Critique: Nature Trek 2

Bottom Bar

And, as promised, the critique of the bottom bar. I like that darker grey header, first of all, even if it seems a bit random. I guess it provides the user with a nice ending to the page, which is especially good right before the Contact Us portion.

The layout is a bit different: three items, but the middle item is wide, the left lines up with the left sidebar, and the right matches the left’s width. Obviously Twitter and Contact Us won’t need that information, and the Quick Links need tons. If they had put the Quick Links on the right or the left, I think it would have ended looking unbalanced and imperfect.

Take-Aways

  • Colors should match the ideas of the page, not just be your favorite color
  • Take time to figure out how people will be looking for information on your site and build your navigation around that
  • Always include a phone number if people will need to call you for help
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